Buttry, Starks carry Purples to 88-76 victory over Greenwood


Bowling Green High School’s boys basketball team may be a work in progress, but the Purples had a lot of things working in their KHSAA 14th district opener against Greenwood on Friday night.

Bowling Green’s defense stifled Greenwood star Cade Stinnett in the first half, and the Purples stayed comfortably in front down the stretch in claiming an 88-76 victory over the previously unbeaten Gators.

Senior guard Turner Buttry is the only BGHS player with significant varsity experience, but the Purples’ newcomers have shown plenty of promise in the early going. Sophomore forward Elijah Starks led Bowling Green with 27 points as the Purples remained unbeaten in six games.

“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to their young guys,” Greenwood coach Will McCoy said. “They packed it in, defensively, like they should have (in the first half). I think Cade got a little gassed, chasing Turner around. Some of the drives, the pull-ups that he normally hits didn’t fall.

“We didn’t make shots. We scored 22 points in the first half. Against a good team, good luck with that. It’s not gonna get it done.”

Veteran BGHS coach DG Sherrill has insisted Greenwood loomed as the 14th District favorite in the preseason, based on the Gators’ returning players. But the Purples are a quick, deep team, and the players’ roles are starting to come into focus. Starks and BGHS center Mason Ritter protected the basket and Buttry and the Purples’ young guards stayed on the attack, leaving Greenwood scrambling throughout most of the second half.

The Gators trimmed their deficit to 10 points midway through the fourth quarter, but they’d get no closer. Freshman guards Deuce Bailey and Jace Wardlow, sophomore Makayelus Wardlow and eighth grade blur Trevy Barber are almost interchangable, at least on the defensive end of the floor, and with Buttry calling the shots at the point, the Purples have plenty of scoring options.

At least for the moment.

“We’ve got three seniors, a junior and a bunch of young guys,” Sherrill said. “We still know how good they are, how formidable Greenwood will be. They’ll be laying in wait, the next time we play (January 21 at Greenwood). I thought we were good defensively, for a long stretch, in the first half and into the second.

“We just tell our kids all the time, ‘Just play hard.’ The important thing for us is to have some humility about it, going forward. There’s definitely a learning curve for us.”

Perhaps the Purples are a quick study.

Buttry had 25 points before fouling out with 1:11 left in the game, while Barber and Makayelus Wardlow added 11 and 10 respectively.

“Elijah and Mason, they work very hard in practice,” Buttry said. “I feel like everyone knows their role. This team is really unselfish. If Elijah continues to work like he does, the sky’s the limit.

“Elijah’s not scared of nuthin’. He’ll fight a bear if he has to.”

Starks wasn’t looking for any bears when it was over, but he was pleased with his production on the offensive end of the floor.

“Me and Mason are really locked in, in practice,” Starks said. “I’ve wanted to focus on defense and rebounding. The scoring just kind of came to me. This is a new team that we have, but it feels like we’ve played together for a long time.”

Senior guard Brakton Stinnett led the Gators with 27 points, and Cade Stinnett found his scoring touch in the second half and finished with 18 points. Senior guard Hunter Raymer had the hot hand from 3-point range in the first half and added 13 points.

“You’ve really just got to keep (Cade Stinnett) in front of you. I’ve got a ton of respect for that kid,” Sherrill said. “Offensively, for us, it’s gonna be a different kid every night. Greenwood is a really good basketball team. We’re going to play hard. We know who we are.”

BGHS GIRLS 46, GREENWOOD 16 — Bowling Green used a suffocating defensive effort to coast to victory against Greenwood, improving to 4-1 in the process.

Tanaya Bailey led the Lady Purples with 19 points and BGHS junior forward Meadow Tisdale added 13. Senior center LynKaylah James, last year’s Fourth Region MVP, finished with nine points for the Purples, a Sweet Sixteen quarterfinalist last season.

Junior guard Leah Trinh led Greenwood (4-1) with 11 points, and teammate Kayla Grant added six.